“Follow your dreams. Do what you want to do. Don’t screw up.”
These were among the last words Gerald Yarborough’s mother had spoken to him before she passed away, and they had been his motivation through his adult life. It was late 1998, and he was a freshman at St. John’s University, settling into his studies as a pharmacy major. He had everything lined up: a five-year scholarship with a good-paying job in a high-demand field likely upon graduation. Yet, his mother’s directive was persistent.
He was not following his dreams. He was not living his purpose. He felt this more strongly every day. Pharmaceuticals just wasn’t for him. He felt as though he was wasting his true gift: art.
So that is where he focused his full energies: his art electives. But after one year, St. John’s warned him that if he did not start taking sciences courses, he would lose his scholarship.
His mother’s simple proclamation gnawing at him, uncertain where to go, he left school instead of falling into debt with student loans. He told himself that if art was his true purpose in life, God would make a way. It appeared as though school was no longer in his plan. So he joined Geico, working in customer service.
He would spend the next three years there. But those last words from his mother hung with him, refusing to let his dreams dry up.
Helping others find their dreams
His name was Jonathan.
Gerald had met him at Nassau County Correctional Facility. They had encountered one another there many times before, Jonathan as the inmate, Gerald a visitor.
“I was doing good until somebody called the cops,” Jonathan would say.
“If you wouldn’t have been doing that, nobody would have called the police,” Gerald would counter.